During their 2015 Hohonu Moana expedition, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered and mapped an unnamed seamount in the Central Pacific Ocean Basin (shown in the image above). The ship and scientists are now returning to this region, “Musician Seamounts”, to conduct additional mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations over two consecutive cruises. These efforts will be focused north of the Hawaiian Islands, close to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).
From August 8th through August 31st, 2017, the Okeanos Explorerwill map the area using multibeam sonar technologies aboard the ship. Operations will start and end in Honolulu, HI. The additional mapping data will assist in better understanding the geologic history of the seafloor in the remote Pacific Ocean.
During the second cruise, from September 6th through September 30th, 2017, the ROVs Deep Discoverer and Seirios will explore the waters around the Musician Seamounts. By observing the marine habitat and organisms in this area, scientists hope to learn more about life in the Pacific Ocean Basin and the composition of the ocean ecosystem of this region.
Tune in LIVE to this expedition via footage streaming directly from the ship! Also be sure to follow the Inner Space Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more updates and discoveries!
If the ocean is so unfathomably wide and deep, how can scientists possibly hope to do any more than dip our noses beneath the waves to explore? Luckily, engineers have adapted machines to reach areas of the ocean that would never be possible with a human alone. This is where remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, become essential tools of discovery.
To use an ROV, three pieces of technology are crucial. The first is the ship. This is where the scientists are conducting their research, and where the ROV pilot maneuvers the vehicle. The second piece is the tow sled. This piece of technology is used to absorb all of the movement associated with waves and currents, allowing the ROV to be stable. Lastly, is the ROV itself. The ROV and sled are tethered to their research vessel via fiber optic cabling. Through this system, the pilot can maneuver the ROV safely from the ship.
ROVs are designed to withstand the extreme cold and pressure of the deep ocean without malfunction. They are typically either colored yellow or white to stand out against the blues of the ocean, and are built out of materials that are resistant to many atmospheres of compression. ROVs are also balanced with the dense components on the underside, and the flotation portion on top, to offer more stability as it traverses the deep ocean. ROVs can also be equipped with a variety of tools to help them explore efficiently. Since the ocean continually gets darker the deeper one goes, all ROVs are equipped with extremely bright lights. Each ROV has a few high definition cameras that allows us to watch the ROV. They also have two lasers that are used for scale, generally they are 10 cm apart. Most vehicles have biofeedback manipulator arms that are used to gather samples. Some vehicles have a sample box to take bring samples up to the surface for more research.
These incredible machines are vital for scientists to explore parts of the ocean that would not otherwise be seen by human eyes. Tune into the live video feeds below to see ROVs in action, along with more exciting content!
Named in honor of the first woman to travel into space, Dr. Sally K. Ride, the R/V Sally Ride is the newest of the United State’s Academic Research Vessels (UNOLS). Operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Sally Ride represents the new Ocean Class of research vessels. The 238-foot ship features seafloor mapping systems, doppler radar for mapping deep water currents, 2,035 square feet of lab space, and telepresence technologies.Continue reading Introducing the Newest U.S. Academic Research Vessel: R/V Sally Ride→
From November 28 to December 5, 2016, the Inner Space Center (ISC) supported a science verification cruise for the R/V Sally Ride, one of two, new vessels in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet. These short cruises are intended to test the ship, crew, and science systems to make sure that all are in proper working order before the ship departs for its first research expedition. The Sally Ride was named after the late Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who was part of the space shuttle Challenger crew in 1983.
The ISC team tested the ship’s capabilities to support the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system as well as ship-to-shore telepresence technologies and protocols that will enable shore-based participation during ROV dives. Director of the ISC, Dr. Dwight Coleman, installed a mobile telepresence unit (MTU) on board. This unit allows for any ship to have telepresence capabilities.
During the cruise, ROV Jason was used for a variety of exploration activities. Geophysicist, Dr. Mark Zumberge, and his group from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used Jason to attach geophysical sensors to the sea floor. Dr. Lisa Levin, also from Scripps, used the ROV system to continue biological survey of the seafloor around the Del Mar methane seep near San Diego, CA.
Along with ROV operations, the R/V Sally Ride was able to connect to the Birch Aquarium. Amanda Netburn, Bruce Applegate, and Dwight Coleman hosted live broadcasts to the aquarium’s new Sally Ride exhibit.
Located off of North America’s Pacific coast lies the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Here, The E/V Nautilus conducted the first comprehensive study of the region, studying methane seep habitats. Continue reading Investigating Methane Seeps→
From September 2nd, to September 6th, several members of our URI GSO Inner Space Center team sailed aboard the R/V Endeavor. We were joined by scientists (from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography), high school teachers, and members of the United States Coast Guard Academy. Everyone onboard came out to sea for our Rhode Island Shipwrecks project.
The NOAA science team stumbles upon an underwater salt lake, also known as a “brine pool.”
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has been diving its ROV, D2, in the Gulf of Mexico this April. Here is a video clip of one of their awesome encounters in the depths of the Gulf. A brine pool is literally an undersea lake. The contact between salty ocean water and much saltier water (brine), means denser water liquid separates from the less dense ocean water. This saltier fluid sits and “pools” on the bottom. It’s so salty that it will erode the sediment it lies on, forming these pools. If any deep sea dwellers happen to stumble into this pool, they have no chance of getting out (and definitely no lifeguards to help!). It’s a geological anomaly for sure, but it’s a nightmare for any biology living in this normally pitch-black environment. However, those creatures that can acquire some “waterfront” property, while anchoring themselves safely, may reap some serious benefits.
Click play below to listen and learn about these eerily beautiful formations, and the creatures surviving on their deadly coastlines.
What’s an ROV? An ROV is a remotely operated vehicle used by research teams as a submersible.
ROVs are tethered to ships. They are controlled by a remote either on ship or land. They are powered by the ship. For the purpose of ocean exploration, the ROVs we use have high definition video cameras that record the live streaming video.
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